Disability itself, is a tricky word. What is a person with a disability? Is it somebody in a wheelchair, or someone living with an injury from a car crash or the aftermath of a stroke? Perhaps it’s somebody with a mental health issue. The reality is, it is all of these things and more but the value of persons with disabilities as employees can be lost in a haze of outdated assumptions and stigmas.
Rehab Group has a longstanding history of promoting active inclusion and supporting people with disabilities to access employment in communities throughout Ireland. The organisation advocates for the promotion of adequate support structures for those who are living with some form of disability or disadvantage and wish to work. It works to counter perceptions that those living with disability are incapable of offering value. But for the employment of people with disabilities to rise, Rehab points out, investment must start with employers.
Persons with disabilities present business and industry with unique opportunities in labour-force diversity and corporate culture, and they’re a large consumer market, eager to know which businesses authentically support their goals. Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities will provide significant benefits to workplaces, the economy, the community and individuals themselves.
Rehab Group currently partners with more than one thousand employers nationally on an annual basis in the delivery of their vocational training services. They support companies to actively engage with people with disabilities through their Employer-Based Training service and work experience placements.
Each year more than 400 people with disabilities graduating from Rehab's National Learning Network, which is the training division of the Rehab Group, find employment after completing certified training across a range of industrial and service sectors.
Fergal O’Halloran Frontline Manager Aramark Northern Europe, Three Ireland has this to say about partnering with Rehab Group’s training division.
“I have been involved in the National Learning Networks placement programme since 2016. The programme gave me, as a manager, the opportunity to assist in the development of new employees for Aramark Northern Europe. The programme is efficiently run with great support provided by the team who conduct weekly site visits to provide theoretical training to the students. They are always available to assist with any queries relating to the programme or a student.”
“Vicky Rooney, a former student of the course and current employee of Aramark Northern Europe, started working under my management in a previous catering unit and when I heard that Vicky was available to move onto her next internship I contacted John to ask if she would like to join the Aramark team here in Three. After working for four months as an intern, a suitable position opened here and I was delighted to offer her that position. Vicky is covered through the Government's Wage Subsidy Scheme which subsidises the hourly wage of any student who gains employment. The National Learning Networks internship programme is very beneficial for companies to get involved in as it gives them the opportunity to employ people who are both hardworking and passionate about the hospitality industry.”
The Shamrock Lodge Hotel is another business which partners with NLN and recently took on former student John O’Brien as the grounds gardener. John had completed a horticulture course with NLN. A spokesperson for the hotel said:
“John O’Brien is our gardener and has been a credit since he started at the hotel. He received fantastic training and has been doing a great job since he started with us. John is also a joy to work with, he is always smiling, is very friendly and always willing to help around the hotel. Our experience with NLN has been wonderful and we would highly recommend it. “
Hiring a diverse workforce includes hiring people with disabilities. This is a good business decision. For employers there is a strong business case for disability inclusion.
- Approximately 13% of the potential customer base are people with disabilities and people with health conditions. If a company does not offer inclusive products and services they are missing out on potential income and new customers.
- People with disabilities represent an untapped talent pool for companies striving for diversity in the workplace and an overall positive work environment.
- A recent study by Accenture found that companies leading in disability inclusion outperformed peers when comparing revenue, net income, and performance on economic profit margins (Accenture, 2018)
The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on December 3rd, is ‘Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. To mark this occasion, Rehab is encouraging employers to take part in an online survey about disability in the workplace. Participation is voluntary. Individual responses are confidential and will not be linked to an individual or company. Rehab wants to learn more about employer’s attitudes to disability, concerns about recruitment and retention of people with disabilities and awareness of supports for employers.
Please click on this link to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Disabilityinclusioninwork
The findings will be published on Rehab Group website in January 2019. Please follow the link to take part in the survey.
If you would like to know more or get involved in partnering with Rehab Group and National Learning Network please contact Adrian Stewart, Head of Employability, Rehab Group firstname.lastname@example.org
For employer information and advice on employing or retaining staff with disabilities you can contact the Employer Disability Information service (EDI) which is a consortium of employer organisations – Chambers Ireland, Ibec and ISME funding through the NDA. http://www.employerdisabilityinfo.ie/
Wednesday, 28 November 2018